“In my travels, I have spoken to many wise men, both in the universities, and in the wilds of the world. The practitioners of the scholarly or arcane arts are all in agreement on this matter, that the ring has no ‘moons,’ that is, a world that revolves around it. Other planets in the sky have as many as a hundred or are as bereft as the Ring.
The shamans and many demiurges and even others that have walked among spirits claim that the Hidden Lands have four moons. And although that world is evidently not a ring, it undoubtedly is the ring in terms of place, though it means less there. And the moons on occasion appear in the skies of the Hidden Lands. Of course, the wizards and scholars consider such notions silly nonsense, but I have seen the Yellow Wanderer, and have it on good authority the Red Spectre and Pale Familiar are often visible to those that know where to look. Though few have ever seen the Sable Companion, I doubt not that it exists at well. After all, where would the fabled moonstones come from, else from them? The men of science have no convincing explanation for their existence or power.
Yet I must remark on the discourse and nature of the fifth moon. While most shamans agree that it exists, they all universally say that it has no presence of itself in the realm of spirits, though it can be reached that way. Instead, it only occasionally exists in the material realm, an inversion of the nature of the other moons. Most curiously, some scholars have recorded seeing this moon in the night sky over history, for as long as an hour at a time, though these are often disregarded in modernity.
Stranger still, the fifth moon’s inhabitants enter the spirit world and material, for their forms are physical. In my travels, I have heard of these outsiders, and even met one, and describe them below. Universally, they seem to have strange powers to manipulate time, and are often parasitic or predatory.
The most well known of the inhabitants of the Green Itinerant are the fearsome nagas, These beings appear to have the bodies of snakes, with the heads of men or women attached. They, like most of the inhabitants of the Itinerant that find their way into our world, have strange powers over time. They also often study magic, either of the spirits or of the arcane, and do so with great facility, as their intelligence far exceeds that of most men. To them, these studies are lesser arts, just as wizards often study sciences and grammar.
They do not age, but often hibernate for hours, days, or years at a time. Shamans and villages often come to worship these beings, wherever they are found. They can eat many times their body weight with ease, invariably meat, giving rise to their tendency to eat people in times of desperation, but can just as easily go decades without eating.
In regards to their highest mystery, they are often secretive of it, just as wizards are of theirs, though they often mention it in passing, vaguely, and with a certain condescension, also quite like wizards. One naga I met in my travels finally agreed to divulge to me the nature of their study, recognizing me for a man of learning, and also in exchange for a handsome gift of food. It divulged to me that the naga have names as long as ‘their lives’ in its words, and to know it wholly is to know their fate in totality. This was the reason for their meditation, as they seek to achieve absolute knowledge of their future. As they learn more of their name, they gain greater power over the flow of time as well, being able to slow down, speed up, or even stop time at the highest reaches of proficiency.
All rank in what passes for naga society derives from their accomplishment in this pursuit, and groups of naga, where they can be found, almost instinctively defer to the naga most knowledgeable of their own name. Even in a chance meeting of two nagas along the road, my confidant told me, the greater naga will have near complete command over the lesser, though the compulsion breaks once the nagas separate. It told me for this reason most naga choose to remain solitary, as many resent this part of their nature. Even those rare few that do remain together well advise their better not to overstep their command, as a dissatisfied servant naga will often contrive escapes.
These strange creatures likewise have snake or slug-like bodies, but with far lesser length and no grace whatsoever. Their heads hold glowing, blind white eyes and rapacious grins of jagged, gapless teeth. Where nagas are stoic and measured in their pursuits, the chalogs are frantic, ceaseless, and grasping.
The desperate may use them for servants. Time is the only cost of their service. By sacrificing one’s youth, one may empower and employ a Chalog. They grow stronger as they leech away time and hew strongly on those who donate them out of their earliest stages, serving with a form of loyalty, often transgressing orders for personal gain but always returning to their donors. They may also do this to unwilling targets, but the effect appears to be greatly lessened.
The chalog grows in size and ability as it sucks away youth. The more powerful forms grow limbs, and their appetites grow ever more rapacious. At the greatest extent of their power, they bury themselves deep in soil or stone, and weave themselves a sarcophagus of nigh indestructible fibers. These fibers can then be extracted through several painstaking processes, as time immediately in the vicinity of the torporific creature is slowed to a crawl, and have many desirable and exotic qualities, in addition to their mundane but exquisite strength. The abilities of these fibers vary from chalog to chalog, but the source appears to be effectively infinite.
A creature that resembles a caterpillar with four stubby legs instead, and is nigh as wide as it is long. The creature is often used by time-collectors and nagas, as their secretions can manipulate time, as most creatures do. Most beneficial is the fact that, for a single specimen, the effect of their time-feeding is nearly unnoticeable, but their byproducts retain a good deal of potency.
The only hitch in such operations is that the creatures are highly explosive under certain conditions, though what conditions those are a matter of some debate. Outlandish claims such as second sons, the color yellow, or cuckoldry of their owners are generally disregarded. It is well known that the creatures should be kept away from fire, but not necessarily heat or light. Some claim motion disturbs them as well, and many further elect to keep them away from mills, rivers, and wind of all sorts, although one shaman I knew claimed they saw one mewl happily through an earthquake. Lastly, most agree that the less people and animals nearby, the lower the chances of an unseemly detonation.
They are said to possess the intelligence of most children by their owners.
These strange worms possess a single, orblike eye, glowing at the end, usually identified as the head, though not treated in this way. A companion of mine once claimed that a vikaz was as likely to look at you with its eye as its ass. They possess some ability as oracles, but it is said they require the past of the petitioner to tell their future, usually manifesting as memory loss, but sometimes in the loss of possessions or scars. They often cohabit with naga, their abilities being useful to them.
They do not speak, lacking the organs for such, but possess an intelligence equaling or exceeding most men. When they perish, their eyes continue to glow, and serve as powerful magical tools or reagents, particularly to diviners. It is said that in the eye intelligence of the vikaz persists.
The toothy gullets of these creatures can suck away time. When the mouth opens, all in front will have their perception of time greatly slowed. However, they can also open their mouths to quickly age the things in front of them, though they rarely use this. They also have trouble orienting themselves, as they appear to possess no sensory organs – though they still find their “prey” with alarming alacrity – and they push themselves around on undersized flippers.
The creatures are also, I am told, breathtakingly stupid. They appear to eat large boulders primarily, grinding them to pebbles with the flat teeth in their maw. They are also mostly resistant to damage- hurting them enough to warrant a return in aggression is a mighty feat indeed. Their bodies are mostly their mouths in truth, and they appear to lack viscera for the most part.
Some keep them around as (somewhat) mobile hearths and furnaces, as the interior of their mouth is naturally quite warm and apparently fairly comfortable. By means of feeding them certain cursed stones, they may be heated to the temperature of the most advanced forges of men.
The serpentine danta has many hundreds of arms haphazardly along its small body, with two fingers each. The creature is passive, but has a most curious defense mechanism. It digs itself into a hole, and covers itself. When attacked by predators, it simply uses the time it has gathered to duplicate itself, repeatedly, till the aggressor is literally crushed between the bodies and the hole. This also serves as the creature’s method of reproduction.
Some enterprising time-collectors have attempted to use this creature’s secretions, as they seem somewhat effective in that matter, but the trouble of triggering the defense mechanism makes this a dangerous gambit.
These creatures have the arms and legs of primates, though their body nonetheless still has a wormlike shape, and their eyeless head ends in a horrific mouth that opens four ways. The mouth is used to release horrific sonic attacks and defend their themselves. Wise men say this creature’s screams are enhanced by its manipulation of time, which in effect makes a chorus of its own voice, as it screams a thousand thousand times in each instant.
Thankfully, they are quite pliable, trainable, and even a delight to children, if well fed. They vocalize somewhat loudly almost constantly, however, and most scholars find them an unconscionable distraction to their focus.
This small, double ended snake creature uses its mouths to latch onto a larger creature, and leech time from them. Instead of slowly drawing away time, the zayalu instead takes time away in discrete moments, causing the parasitized to cease existing for a brief moments. Some thieves use this ability to phase through locks, doors, and other impedances, but the chances of having your limbs severed or being encased in stone deter all but the most mad from their use.
This small leech creature is rather similar to their terrestrial cousin, but it sucks time instead of blood. As it does, the creature it parasitizes ages faster to an outsider’s view, and the leech grows in size, gradually enveloping more and more of the creature, till it is only a sickening sack of green-black flesh, roughly in the shape of the original creature, remains. The Bhuj adult then shuffles around, attacking living creatures till it catches and kills one, allowing it to implant its young, that later burst out and float through the air, seeking a new target.
These strange winged worms are considered pests and nuisances, and frequently accompany visitors and travellers to the fifth moon when they return. Their large mouths are used for sifting water, dust, ash, or anything that they deem to have a surfeit of time.
These creatures appear to be mostly useless, though one traveller I chanced upon claimed that the teeth of their cavernous maws, in addition to resembling whalebone, can serve a similar purpose.
The aka tree is an oddity, in that it is quite possibly misnamed. As a result of their peculiar life cycle, only seeds and sprouts are ever seen by men, thus suggesting that it may not be a tree at all.
A shaman I befriended in my travels carried a sapling in his knapsack. He explained to me that when the sapling reaches some point in maturity, it explosively grows into its adult form, pollinates itself, dies, and decays into soil, all faster than the eye can perceive. This has a tendency to kill anyone in the immediate vicinity, drastically age those in a large radius, and emphatically demolish anything overhead. He carried it with him for good luck.
Candra is a plant that resembles a form of bamboo. I one form or another, it covers most of the surface of the fifth moon in great forests. To an outsider looking down to the surface of the fifth moon from the ring, this is the cause of the alternating waves of black and green running over the surface. For the bamboo forests experience massive die offs, and stay dead for a time before resurrecting, but to an outside observer this occurs in mere seconds as opposed to months, years, decades, or centuries, as seen on the moon.
The varieties are too many enumerate, but they slow time around them to a crawl. Some bamboo have the ability to reverse time, and their resurrections are, in truth, just that. Some forests display a sort of intelligence, and actively retaliate against feeders and attackers. Some grow tall, some short, some cover continents, some a bare handful of yards. Once, a group of explorers united in common cause to travel to the moon and catalog all the varieties, their abilities, and their uses. They have not been heard of since, though whether this is owed to failure or the time dilation the expedition experiences, none can say.
Dessicated or fashioned pieces of the wood often find their way into the world around the necks or travellers or nagas. Purportedly, their abilities are preserved in this form, though there is some doubt of that.
The bodies of these gluttonous snakes are so uniform when their eyes are closed that their fronts are often mistaken for their backs and vice versa, and their usual motionless habit leads many to believe they are inanimate altogether, even if their natural camouflage is seen through.
This is a deadly miscalculation, as they are one of the few predators to make the trip from the moon. As soon as unexpecting prey wanders into their midst, their mouth latches onto their tail, and they roll the bulk of their ring shaped bodies around with shocking alacrity.
When it strikes its prey, it may repeat the instant until the creature is crushed to death. Thankfully, they are quite poor at striking with their charge, as their eyes are poor, but even beyond that, their imposing bulk and fearsome bites make them deadly enemies.
Balaf (or bailiffs)
These deadly creatures are stand apart, literally, from their fellows on the fifth moon. Whereas most creatures are low to the ground, soft, and wormlike in body plan, these predators stand on tall, bony legs, connecting to a body so small one barely perceives it. They are made taller yet by their single bony arm that extends upwards from their body. The arm’s myriad joints and great length allow it to extend back to the ground, where it wreaks havoc on its prey.
This arm also serves as tongue and mouth. The end opens seamlessly into a cone-like beak, that can tear at flesh after the arm bludgeons the prey to death. The arm can swing with enough speed and force to reduce stone to dust, though this often greatly damages the arm itself. The balaf can simply regenerate these wounds by reversing time, and as a result attacks with a reckless, ferocious abandon.
Many variants of this creature exist across the fifth moon, but they are said to almost invariably deadly, whatever species they are. Some species can lash with their arms many times in a moment, other focus on a single strike a million times to magnify force. A few use acid and long probing tongues. Some species are also singular and rewinds time itself after death or as it ages.
Thankfully, these creatures rarely make the journey here, perhaps because they are not parasitic in nature and prefer the prey of their homeworld.”
TN Note: This is one of Olbede’s more esoteric works, an oft forgotten segment of is Treatise of the Satellites. Sadly, most of the manuscript has been lost, including the rest of the glossary of beasts, which is presented here in as complete a form as could be managed. Some of the chapters for naga, chalogs, and the matya survive yet, though they are exceedingly rare, the rest, if he wrote any, are gone from this world.
Stat blocks later